Sat | Dec 15, 2018

Stop calling wards 'government pickney' - CPFSA director

Published:Friday | August 3, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer

Pointing to a number of success stories within state homes, Michelle McIntosh, a director at the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), believes that it has become even more critical that stigma is eradicated from vulnerable groups.

In an interview with The Gleaner during the CPFSA Education Transitioning Forum and Awards Ceremony, McIntosh indicated that a number of children performed extremely well in the recent Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), which is a signal that wards of the State must be given an equal opportunity to excel.

"Take away the stigma of 'government pickney'. They are still God's creation. They will succeed once you allow them. We just need to stop the stigma," she said.

"We have quite a few of our wards who are at tertiary institutions. We are paying a lot of school fees to the University of the West Indies, University of Technology, Northern Caribbean University, Shortwood Teachers' College, and others," McIntosh disclosed.

The CPFSA official bemoaned the fact that there have been cases where children have been made to feel alienated because they did not have active fathers.

"Oftentimes, they don't want to go to school because of the stigma, [and] sometimes the teachers don't understand," related McIntosh. "There are cases where the child is adopted, but teachers make a big deal over the fact they don't have fathers. [Admittedly], a lot of the foster parents are females, but you can't treat them (wards) differently," she argued.

McIntosh highlighted the achievements of the wards in the recent GSAT.

"Some regions were very outstanding. The western region continues to be one of the leaders in terms of producing children with higher grades. You would be surprised to know that northeast, our smallest region with 17 children, did very well," she said during the CPFSA Education Transitioning Forum and Awards Ceremony held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston this week.

"There were one and two (from northeast) who scored in the 30s, but for the most part, they were averages of 70 per cent and over . The children are also seeing the events over the years where achievers are recognised, and as such, they are motivated and are really striving," she continued.

She added, "We feel that despite the challenges, they did their very best. We had quite a few persons getting 80 per cent and over."